Molecular mechanisms of dendritic cell migration in immunity and cancer

Charlotte M. de Winde, Clare Munday, Sophie E. Acton

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Dendritic cells (DCs) are a heterogeneous population of antigen-presenting cells that act to bridge innate and adaptive immunity. DCs are critical in mounting effective immune responses to tissue damage, pathogens and cancer. Immature DCs continuously sample tissues and engulf antigens via endocytic pathways such as phagocytosis or macropinocytosis, which result in DC activation. Activated DCs undergo a maturation process by downregulating endocytosis and upregulating surface proteins controlling migration to lymphoid tissues where DC-mediated antigen presentation initiates adaptive immune responses. To traffic to lymphoid tissues, DCs must adapt their motility mechanisms to migrate within a wide variety of tissue types and cross barriers to enter lymphatics. All steps of DC migration involve cell–cell or cell–substrate interactions. This review discusses DC migration mechanisms in immunity and cancer with a focus on the role of cytoskeletal processes and cell surface proteins, including integrins, lectins and tetraspanins. Understanding the adapting molecular mechanisms controlling DC migration in immunity provides the basis for therapeutic interventions to dampen immune activation in autoimmunity, or to improve anti-tumour immune responses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)515-529
Number of pages15
JournalMedical microbiology and immunology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Actin cytoskeleton
  • Cell migration
  • Dendritic cell
  • Integrin
  • Lectin
  • Tetraspanin

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